Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Flag poll message clear: Leave it alone

Kiwis’ support for change drops from 40% a year ago to 25%
The silver fern was the front runner for an alternative flag in the Herald poll, preferred by 45 per cent. Photo / Martin Sykes
The silver fern was the front runner for an alternative flag in the Herald poll, preferred by 45 per cent. Photo / Martin Sykes

Support for changing the flag has dropped with only a quarter of those polled in the latest Herald-Digipoll survey wanting a change, compared to 40 per cent a year ago.

Asked if it was time for New Zealand to design a flag for itself, 25 per cent said "yes" and 70 per cent said "no".

Just after Prime Minister John Key announced plans for a referendum a year ago, 40 per cent supported a change while in 2010 more than half were in favour.

The latest poll, of 750 eligible voters, was taken from April 17 to 26, when there was a lot of media coverage of Anzac Day commemorations and the RSA criticised the timing of the referendum in the centenary year of the Gallipoli landing.

RSA chief executive David Moger said yesterday the poll reflected the feedback the RSA had received and was a "massive shift" from 2014. "I'm sure the commemorations and people realising the enormity of what has been achieved under our flag is really coming to the fore."

Dean Knight, a constitutional law lecturer at Victoria University who supports change, said he expected support to lift when the alternative designs were released.

"I think the numbers will vary dramatically once people see a range of robust designs."

The Flag Consideration Panel made up of New Zealanders from a range of fields is expected to start public consultation this month and produce a shortlist of four designs by the end of August.

The silver fern was the front runner for an alternative flag in the Herald poll, preferred by 45 per cent. In second place was the Southern Cross with 18 per cent support.

Almost 80 per cent believed the first referendum in December should ask if the flag should change rather than waiting to pit the current flag against an alternative in a second referendum next March. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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